Campus News

University of Kentucky College of Engineering to Dedicate Four Teaching Labs

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 09:06

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 25, 2015) — The University of Kentucky College of Engineering invites the media and the public to attend a celebration at 1 p.m. today, Thursday, June 25, in the Joseph G. and Suzanne W. Teague Courtyard of the engineering quadrangle. The occasion is the dedication of four teaching and laboratory spaces that have been updated through generous personal and corporate donations. The spaces will be used by the college’s Department of Civil Engineering.


“Outstanding facilities breed creativity and collaboration,” said John Walz, dean of the UK College of Engineering. “They are critical for attracting the best faculty and students to our program, as well as allowing our faculty, staff and students to achieve their fullest potential.”


The spaces to be dedicated are as follows:


·         David & Margaret Houchin Intech Contracting Construction Management Lab. Upgraded with eight large monitors, as well as new furniture, lighting and white boards, this lab will enhance the interactive group work that is part of the construction management curriculum.

·         Palmer Engineering Classroom. New artwork, paint and white boards will allow the department to better serve faculty and students in medium-sized civil engineering classes.

·         Stantec Civil Engineering Design Lab. Additional furniture and computers, as well as a conference table and presentation lab are just some of the updates that will enable civil engineering capstone design lab students to create effective capstone presentations.

·         Stantec Civil Engineering Materials Lab. A new audio-visual system, a motorized screen and a new drop ceiling to improve acoustics will provide an aesthetic environment conducive to the engineering education experience for students in materials testing and railroad classes. The renovations will also make the lab an ideal space for seminars and visiting speakers.


In 1991, David Houchin formed Intech Contracting LLC, a Kentucky-based construction contracting company that specializes in bridge repair and restoration, inspection support, and related services. The firm is notable for completing the painting of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge in Louisville. Intech has also contributed to the restoration efforts of several highly visible or historic bridges, including over half of the 13 wooden covered bridges in Kentucky and others elsewhere and the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge in Cincinnati. Houchin is a charter member of the College of Engineering Construction Management Founders Society and received the Construction Management Founders Society Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.


Ralph Palmer and Dick Nunan founded Palmer Engineering in February 1969. Through their vision and leadership, the company has grown to nine offices in four states. From the beginning, their guiding principle of providing outstanding service has resulted in hundreds of clients and thousands of successful projects. Palmer Engineering offers surveying, environmental, land development, structure, transportation and water resources services.


The Stantec community unites more than 15,000 employees working in over 250 locations. They collaborate across disciplines and industries to bring buildings, energy and resource and infrastructure projects to life. Their work — professional consulting in planning, engineering, architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, surveying, environmental sciences, project management and project economics — begins at the intersection of community, creativity and client relationships. Since 1954, their local strength, knowledge and relationships, coupled with their world-class expertise, have allowed them to go anywhere to meet their clients’ needs in more creative and personalized ways. With a long-term commitment to the people and places they serve, Stantec has the unique ability to connect to projects on a personal level and advance the quality of life in communities across the globe.




MEDIA CONTACT: Kel Hahn, 859-257-3409,

Dentistry Graduate and Professor Recognized for Research Project

Wed, 06/24/2015 - 08:53

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 25, 2015) — University of Kentucky College of Dentistry graduate Jonathan Francis and Assistant Professor Lina Sharab were recognized for their research efforts by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), and they presented their research during the recent 2015 AAO Annual Session in San Francisco. The AAO is the world’s oldest and largest dental specialty organization, representing more than 17,000 orthodontist members throughout the United States, Canada, and abroad.  


Francis was awarded second place, receiving $750, in the basic science category of the 2015 Charley Schultz Resident Scholar Award for his research titled, “Screw Diameter and Orthodontic Loading Influence Adjacent Bone Response.” A total of 23 research presentations were submitted for the award this year. Francis also received second place for this research in the UKCD College Research Day in the Graduate Student Clinical/Translational category. His mentor was UKCD Division of Orthodontics Chief Dr. Sarandeep Huja.


The Charley Schultz Resident Scholar Award was established by the AAO in 2004 as a means of offering graduate students/residents the chance to present clinical science and basic science research using narrative material and a posterboard.


"It’s exciting to be a part of research that can help advance the field of orthodontics. I am very grateful for all the guidance and help I received throughout this project," Francis said.


Sharab was one of four people awarded the 2015 Thomas M. Graber Award of Special Merit, established by the AAO in 2002, for her research titled, “Genetic and treatment related risk factors associated with external apical root reabsorption (EARR).” Sharab was mentored by UKCD Professor of Orthodontics Dr. James Hartsfield and also supported by Assistant Professor Dr. Lorri Morford, UK Center for Oral Health.


“Most people work hard to have their goals achieved. A variety of life obstacles start filtering away many of the hard working people, slowing them down, or leaving them deeply stressed," Sharab said. "Having enthusiasm as a motivation is the only guarantee to eventually reach one’s goal. When one reaches her/his goal, the best reward is a symbolic gift of the same nature; an award that was passionately created, named after one of the most passionate educators in orthodontics, and given to re-energize and nurture a young growing passion like mine.


"The Graber Award is the most rewarding gift to my love of both orthodontics and education. While it is true that research was required as part of earning the orthodontic degree; it was also a labor of love. I was lucky to get the inspiration and support from my mentors at UK.”


The AAO Awards selection process is very competitive, Huja said. "It is significant that two individuals in the Division of Orthodontics at the University of Kentucky were recognized and received awards in the same year. This is really a tribute to the graduate students’ hard work and the college’s mentors who work diligently to develop these research ideas."  


“I am delighted to see these superb young orthodontists receive national attention for the quality of their work. This is yet another indication of the high quality of our orthodontic program,” said Dean Sharon Turner. “Our faculty are world-class as demonstrated by their achievements and, even more impressive, by the achievements of those whom they so carefully mentor.”

UK Alumni Association Announces Board of Directors Officers

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 17:27

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 24, 2015) — The University of Kentucky Alumni Association recently announced its 2015-16 board of directors officers. They are David B. Ratterman, president; Peggy Meszaros, president-elect; Susan Van Buren Mustian, treasurer; and Stan Key, secretary. The new slate will officially take office July 1, 2015, and will serve until June 30, 2016.


David B. Ratterman, of Louisville, Kentucky, has served five three-year terms on the UK Alumni Association Board of Directors. He was elected to the officer position of treasurer for 2013-14 and the position of president-elect for 2014-15. He has held several committee leadership positions with the association, including chairman of the Diversity and Group Development; Communications; Great Teacher/Scholarships; Nominating for Board; Budget, Finance, and Investments; and Strategic Planning committees and served on the Diversity Task Force. Ratterman has been a member of the UK Advocacy Network (UKAN) since the group’s inception.


He has been involved with student recruitment, special events, diversity activities and the Greater Louisville UK Alumni Club. He is a partner with Stites and Harbison PLLC and is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a Fellow of the American College of Construction Lawyers and is listed in “Kentucky Super Lawyers” and “The Best Lawyers in America.” Ratterman serves on a variety of professional committees and organizations, including as secretary and general counsel to the American Institute of Steel Construction. He is also a retired U.S. Navy commander and a member of the Louisville Rotary Club. He is a 2012 recipient of the prestigious UK Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award. Ratterman received a bachelor’s degree from UK in mechanical engineering in 1968 and did graduate work at UK in 1970. He also holds degrees from the University of Louisville. He is a Life Member of the UK Alumni Association and a UK Fellow.


Peggy S. Meszaros, of Blacksburg, Virginia, has served three three-year terms on the UK Alumni Association Board of Directors. She has held several committee leadership positions with the association, including chairwoman of the Alumni Service Awards; Communications; Nominating for Board; Scholarships/Great Teacher Awards and Budget, Finance and Investments committees. She is the William E. Lavery Professor of Human Development and director of the Research Center for Information Technology Impacts on Children, Youth, and Families at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Meszaros served from 1993-1994 as dean of the College of Human Resources at Virginia Tech and from 1994-2000 served as senior vice president and provost, the highest-ranking female in the history of the school. From 1985-1993 Meszaros served as dean of the UK College of Human Environmental Sciences (now UK School of Human Environmental Sciences). She was inducted into the UK Human Environmental Sciences Hall of Fame in 2002. She served on the UK Athletics Association Board from 1986-1992 and is a founding member of the Erikson Society at UK. 


Meszaros was inducted into the UK Alumni Association Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 1995 and was a 2011 recipient of the prestigious UK Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award. She is a member of the Blacksburg Rotary Club and has served on its board of directors and as co-chair of Membership and Attendance Committees. Meszaros received a master’s degree from the UK College of Education and received a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. She is a Life Member of the UK Alumni Association and a UK Fellow. She was married to Alex Meszaros, now deceased, and has three children. Their son, Louis, graduated from UK.


Susan Van Buren Mustian, of Hebron, Kentucky, has served two three-year terms on the UK Alumni Association Board of Directors. She has held several committee leadership positions with the association including chairwoman of Membership and Club Development and vice-chairwoman of Diversity and Group Development committees. Mustian also chaired the Strategic Plan Governance Focus Group. A former president of the Student Activities Board, she also led the Student Alumni Association as an undergraduate. Mustian continued her involvement with the association serving as president-elect of the Northern KY/Greater Cincinnati UK Alumni Club and also as vice president and secretary. She helped develop alumni clubs in South Bend, Indiana, and Hong Kong, SAR, where she was appointed to the Strategic Plan Accreditation Leadership Team with the Hong Kong International School.


Mustian is a member of the Southwest Ohio Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Board of Directors and serves as the Cincinnatian of the Year Gala co-chairwoman and president-elect. In 2014 she received the Greater Cincinnati Planned Giving Council Voices of Giving Award. Mustian is a 2012 recipient of the prestigious UK Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award. She received a bachelor’s degree in marketing in 1984 from the UK Gatton College of Business and Economics. Mustian is a member of UKAN and a Life Member of the UK Alumni Association. She is married to Scott J. Mustian ’85 BE, a UK Fellow and also a Life Member of the UK Alumni Association. They are the parents of Sam, Nathan and Sarah.


Stan Key, of Lexington, Kentucky, earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Kentucky in 1972. He also earned a master’s degree in education from Murray State University in 1977. He was in the position of associate director of the UK Alumni Association from 1990 to 1998. Since 1998, Key has served as the director of UK Alumni Affairs and executive director of the UK Alumni Association and as secretary to the association’s board of directors. He is a Life Member of the UK Alumni Association and a UK Fellow. He and his wife, Mary Jane Key ’72 ED, have two sons, Ryan and Neil, both UK grads.

The UK Alumni Association is a membership supported organization committed to fostering lifelong engagement among alumni, friends, the association, and the university. For more information about the UK Alumni Association or to become a member, visit or call 800- 269-2586.

UK College of Nursing Study Exposes Historical Barricades to Health in Tobacco-Growing States

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 17:20

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 24, 2015) — The major tobacco-growing states lag behind the rest of the nation in adopting measures effective in reducing tobacco use. Consequently, these five states — Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina and Tennessee — are disproportionately affected by tobacco related disease, the leading cause of preventable death.


Bringing light to this health disparity, a researcher in the University of Kentucky College of Nursing recently found tobacco companies prioritized holding back tobacco-growing states as tobacco-control policies, including smoke-free policies, passed across the nation.


Amanda Fallin, Ph.D., conducted a comprehensive review of historical data, including previously secret tobacco industry documents, which provided evidence of manufacturers aligning with farmers and tobacco-growing interest groups to block tobacco-control policies in the top growing states. Her paper, titled "Tobacco-Control Policies in Tobacco-Growing States: Where Tobacco was King," was recently published in The Milbank Quarterly, a multidisciplinary journal covering population health and health policy.


In the 1960s, tobacco companies began focusing on tobacco-control policies in tobacco-growing states. The companies ignited a pro-tobacco culture through a policy network of legislators, agricultural interest groups and commissioners of agriculture. Many previously clandestine documents sourced from tobacco manufacturers suggested these manufacturers were called to "circle the wagon" around tobacco-growing states.


After news of smoking's link to lung cancer was exposed by the media in the 1950s, tobacco manufacturers formed a national alliance called the Tobacco Growers Information Committee. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the committee funded a public relations campaign aimed at normalizing tobacco production. In the 80s and 90s, smoke-free legislation started to build momentum across the country. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) attempted to curb tobacco use through the Community Intervention Trial for Smoking Cessation (COMMIT), but only one tobacco-growing state, North Carolina, participated in the trial.


In the 1990s, North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina participated in the NCI's American Stop Smoking Intervention study and alliances, such as the Southern Tobacco Communities Project, started to form between health organizations and farmers. A group of health and farming organizations came to together to acknowledge the need to preserve the livelihoods of tobacco farmers as well as prevent youth smoking initiation. The Core Principles statement, which summarized areas of agreement, was signed by more than 100 health and farming groups in 1998.


From 1990 to the turn of the century, a rift in the relationship between farmers and tobacco manufacturers preceded policy changes in tobacco-growing states. The demand for tobacco in the U.S. was declining and manufacturers were seeking foreign producers for cheaper tobacco prices. In addition, the hospitality industry, which in the past had supported tobacco use, broke its alliance with tobacco companies.


In 2003, a turnabout in tobacco-control policy acceptance was marked by the passing of the first countywide smoke-free ordinance in public places in a tobacco-growing state, Kentucky. Since then, all five states have progressed toward 100-percent smoke-free policies, in the midst of appeals, set-backs and compromises weakening legislation. Currently, Kentucky observes 24 comprehensive smoke-free laws at the local level. Most Kentucky colleges and universities have implemented 100 percent tobacco-free campus policies.


"Kentucky is changing," Fallin said. "There is a pro-tobacco sentiment because of our history, but there are dramatically fewer tobacco farmers compared to previous generations. There has been a shift in our way of thinking about tobacco, and progress is now occurring. The majority of Kentuckians support a comprehensive statewide smoke-free law."


While the tobacco-growing states have gained substantial ground enacting tobacco-control policies in the past decade, the article emphasizes these states must continue to educate policymakers and the public about the changing reality of tobacco. As of 2014, the average tax rate for a pack of cigarettes is $0.48 in tobacco-growing states, whereas the average is $1.68 in other states. Misconceptions about the cultural and economic value of tobacco continue to obstruct widespread acceptance of smoke-and tobacco-free policies. Fallin believes reducing the burden of lung disease in tobacco-growing states will require health advocates to reflect on old realities and acknowledge the changing environment.


"We are a tobacco growing state, but from an economic perspective, tobacco-related morbidity and mortality contributes to enormous cost to our health care system," Fallin said. "It's time to shift our thinking — to think about the potential for dramatic public health impact in Kentucky by adopting evidence-based tobacco policies like significant increases in tobacco excise taxes and smoke-free legislation."


MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams,

Breaking Cultural Barriers One 4-H’er at a Time

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 16:22

Fisherville, Ky. (June 24, 2015) — Growing up an only child in Spencer County, Lilli Hanik, 16, always wondered what it would be like to have a sibling. This year, she was given her chance through Kentucky 4-H International Exchange Program.


During the summer of 2014, Hanik and her family chose to be matched with Rikako Sato, a 17-year-old student in Japan’s Labo International Exchange Program, which is similar to 4-H youth development in America.  Sato and Hanik both share a strong passion for music.


Since the program’s beginnings in 1970s, Kentucky 4-H youth development, in the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, has connected young people like Hanik and Sato through its four-week exchange program. The Haniks and Sato are unique, because they are the first Kentucky 4-H family to host a Japanese Labo program student for an entire year.


“Exchange programs like these help expose Kentucky youth to other cultures, which helps them build valuable work and life skills like cultural sensitivity, confidence and communication,” said Mark Mains, Kentucky 4-H youth development specialist and state coordinator for the international programs. “This is truly a two-way experience, as we have developed right along with Rikako.”


Hosting a Japanese student in the Labo program was familiar territory for the Haniks, who have twice hosted Japanese students during the four-week summer program offered through Kentucky 4-H.


“Lilli wanted to try the yearlong program, because she wanted a longer bond,” said Kim Hanik, Lilli’s mother. “You have to have an open heart and take it as a learning and sharing experience.”


Sato was also a seasoned Labo participant, having previously stayed with a Canadian family for four weeks. She wanted to come to America to learn about its culture and be able to compare it not only with Japan but also with Canada.


“Our (young people’s) future is more international now than ever,” she said. “It’s important to be accepting of others and learn about different cultures, so we can be more open minded.”


Living with the Haniks for a year gave Sato the chance to experience life as an American teenager. She attended school with Hanik at Spencer County High School, where she played the trumpet in marching band alongside Hanik playing the euphonium, and she sang in chorus.


Sato participated in all of the Haniks’ activities, including carving her first pumpkin and celebrating her birthday, Hanik family weddings, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Haniks also introduced her to iconic Kentucky activities and events including horseback riding and Thunder Over Louisville. Both girls participated in 4-H activities at local, state and regional levels including the country ham project, Teen Summit and the Southern Region 4-H Teen Leadership Conference.


Sato and the Haniks will part ways at the end of June, but plan to stay in touch. Lilli Hanik will travel to Japan for eight weeks this summer as the first Kentucky 4-H’er to go to Japan through the States’ 4-H International Exchange Program. Four weeks of her stay will include learning Japanese in Tokyo. The other four weeks she will be in Hyogo, Japan, with a host family that includes a child the Haniks’ previously hosted. Sato hopes to one day visit the Haniks again and potentially live and work in America after she completes college in Japan. Both girls already have plans to meet at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.


“We call it bonds over oceans,” Lilli Hanik said. “We are always going to be good friends.”


Due to the success of the program and the bonds formed between the Haniks and Sato, the Haniks will welcome another yearlong Japanese Labo participant later this summer.


The Kentucky 4-H International Program is always looking for families willing to host Japanese LABO participants for either a month during the summer or an entire year. More information on these programs is available by contacting Mains at




MEDIA CONTACT:  Katie Pratt, 859-257-8774;

$1.6 Million Grant Looks at Role of Key Protein following Traumatic Brain Injury

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 14:08
LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 24, 2015) — Linda Van Eldik, Ph.D., director of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky, has received a $1.6 million grant to study the role of a key protein in the cascade of events following traumatic brain injury (TBI).


The five-year grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) explores the role of a protein called p38a in the inflammatory response process post-brain injury in a mouse model of mild TBI. The research will also determine the potential for a small molecule inhibitor of p38a activity to suppress the inflammation, and thereby prevent neuron degeneration and the resulting behavioral impairments caused by brain injury.


"In the research community, abnormal inflammation is being targeted as a potential 'bad guy' for a host of diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and stroke and brain injury is on that list," Van Eldik said.


Increasing evidence points to chronic, long-lasting inflammatory responses in the brain after TBI as a contributor to neurological damage and cognitive deficits, she said.


"If the p38a inhibitor is proven to interfere with the process by which inflammation damages the brain after injury, we will have a foundation for future development of treatments that might stop or even reverse cognitive impairment," she said.


Traumatic brain injury represents a major unmet medical need, as currently no effective therapy exists to prevent the increased risk of dementia and other neurologic complications, such as post-traumatic epilepsy, neuropsychiatric disorders, and postconcussive symptoms such as headaches, sleep disturbance, memory problems, dizziness, and irritability.


"Successful completion of these studies will help us define when, where and how the important inflammatory protein p38a can be targeted to disrupt the process by which inflammation contributes to brain damage after injury," Van Eldik said. "The potential implications are enormous for patients with head injury due to car accidents, battlefield injury, the football field, or the many other situations where TBI is a highly possible outcome."


Media Contact: Laura Dawahare,


UK Board OKs Continued Housing Transformation, University Flats Coming in 2017

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 11:41

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 24, 2015) — The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees approved the next phase of UK's student housing transformation at its June 19 meeting — a more than 770-bed complex designed to serve upper class and graduate students.


Specifically, the board approved a $74 million, 771-bed facility along University Drive facing UK's Chandler Hospital. The facility — to be named University Flats — will provide housing for upper class, professional and graduate students — the first of the new housing construction focusing on those students.


The facility, like other new housing since 2013, will be built in partnership with EdR, said UK Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Eric N. Monday. The facility is expected to be completed in and ready for move-in Fall 2017.


"Our housing transformation is an example of promises made; promises kept," Monday said. "President Capilouto said our goal and our vision was to create one of the best residential, public research campuses in the country. This continued housing transformation — focused completely on student success — is a cornerstone of that effort."


The goal of UK's housing transformation has been to create enough high-quality, high-tech housing for all of the university's first-year students. With that goal in sight, the university is now focusing on building quality space for upper class and graduate students. An update on UK's housing transformation:


  • Since 2013, UK in partnership with EdR, based in Memphis, has constructed 4,592 beds. Along with 686 beds built in 2005, the university has 5,278 new beds.
  • By August 2016, UK will add another 1,141 new beds as part of the opening of the Limestone Square complex for a total of 6,400 new beds.
  • With this next phase of housing approved June 19, UK will have more than 7,000 new beds on its campus, part of the largest transformation of housing in public higher education. That milestone also will place UK at more than two-thirds of the goal Capilouto laid out three years ago to complete up to 9,000 new student beds.


"We know that our students learn better and do better when they live on campus for at least part of their university experience," Capilouto said. "This housing transformation, then, is an investment in our future — our students and their success."


Visit or click the attachment below for the presentation made to the UK Board of Trustees. 


UKAg Researcher to Develop Artificial Blood for Mosquitoes

Mon, 06/22/2015 - 14:43

LEXINGTON, Ky., (June 23, 2015) — A “nuisance” is probably one of the nicest things people call mosquitoes. Mosquitoes have been called the deadliest animal on the planet because of the diseases they spread. So why would researchers want to develop an artificial buffet for them?


The answer is simple. That “buffet” may lead to fewer mosquitoes. Stephen Dobson, a University of Kentucky professor of medical and veterinary entomology in the Department of Entomology, part of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, believes his mosquito food can do just that. Others believe there’s promise too.


Dobson’s research on developing artificial blood for mosquitoes has made him a Grand Challenges Explorations winner, in an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


The artificial blood he developed will allow people in remote areas around the world to sustain colonies of mosquitoes, even in those areas with limited resources and difficult logistics.


“Multiple, new approaches to control mosquito populations require the ability to rear mosquitoes,” Dobson said. “The artificial blood technology will help us to better fight disease-transmitting mosquitoes in resource-limited areas.”


In one approach patented by the University of Kentucky, mosquitoes are essentially sterilized by a naturally occurring bacterium, called Wolbachia. With an ability to rear large mosquito numbers, the approach can be used as an organic pesticide, to overwhelm and sterilize mosquito populations that transmit diseases like malaria, flilaria, dengue and yellow fever. Once sterilized, the mosquito population declines and can be eliminated.


Dobson has already had promising results using the artificial blood and mosquito sterilization technique to control populations of Asian tiger mosquitoes. Following its invasion of the U.S. in the mid-1980s, the tiger mosquito has become one of the most important biting mosquitoes in Kentucky, and it is a carrier of canine heartworm. Dobson has also tested the technique to control yellow fever mosquitoes. He will use the grant funds to test his artificial blood on more species of mosquitoes, including those known to carry human diseases like malaria.




MEDIA CONTACT: Katie Pratt, 859-257-8774.




Expert on Bullying Worries More About Children in Rural Schools

Mon, 06/22/2015 - 14:06

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 23, 2015) — How do we recognize, deal with and prevent bullying, particularly in schools? A leading authority on bullying offered some ideas on June 12 in a training session called "The Meanest Generation: Teaching Civility, Empathy, Kindness and Compassion to our Angriest Children," held at Eastern State Hospital in Lexington.


The day-long session, sponsored by the University of Kentucky College of Social Work's Office of Professional Development and Continuing Education, featured Malcolm Smith, founder and director of the Courage to Care Project and former professor at the University of New Hampshire.


Smith said one myth about bullying is that it only occurs in large schools. "Actually, I'm more worried about children in a rural school," Smith said. In rural areas, he said, bullying can be a huge problem because there's nowhere to hide, everyone is often into everyone else's business, and an issue can escalate into a feud when families get involved.

Smith defined bullying as a single incident or pattern of written, verbal, electronic or physical actions intended to harm a pupil or his or her property; cause emotional stress; interfere with that student's right to an education; or disrupt the school's operation. Smith debunked a common theory about bullying that became popular in the 1980s — that bullies lack self-esteem.


"Bullies are not kids who have low-self-esteem," Smith said. "The average bully is the kid who is a narcissist." Smith believes that a person becomes narcissistic if he or she never learned to bond and love as a child.

He argued that a lack of empathy and rising narcissism — which is characterized by an overinflated view of one's talents and a high level of selfishness — are the true causes of bullying. Empathy is the tendency to react to other people's observed experiences.


Research shows that 70 percent of current students score higher in narcissism and lower in empathy than they did 35 years ago. Smith believes this is related to the rise in technology, the culture of self-esteem, the decline of time spent playing — which is often when children gain social competencies — and the overexposure of children to meanness and violence through the media.

Bullies are more likely to have been involved in domestic violence and child abuse; are more likely to commit crimes, drink and smoke; and have a greater propensity toward becoming anti-social adults. Signs that a child is a victim of a bully include exclusion, fear, lack of friends, erratic attendance, depression, withdrawal or clinging to teachers and staff.

Because bullying is characterized by an imbalance of power between the perpetrator and the victim, Smith urged school counselors and teachers not to try mediating a bullying situation, especially not by talking to both the victim and the bully in the same room or worse, leaving them to "work it out." Smith said, "You have to educate the social-emotional deficit in the bully, and you have to comfort the victim." Instead of simply punishing the bully, an authority must discipline him or her, which involves teaching.

To properly discipline a bully, he or she must be required to take responsibility for the behavior and explain to the authority why the behavior was wrong. Then the student must discuss alternative actions that could have been employed. Finally, the student must not only apologize but also perform an act of kindness toward the student he or she bullied.

Smith urged teachers and counselors to recognize and address bullying, explaining that it is not ever a good thing or a positive part of a growing experience, as some people think. He pointed out that adults in the workplace are protected by harassment laws and don't have to face bullying alone, so children shouldn't have to, either. He said to combat bullying, "model good social skills yourself, advocate for safer schools and better laws, work with your school parent-teacher organization, engage parents and students in prevention and work on culture and climate."




MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 89-323-2396,